What’s the most magical thing that happened in your garden today?
If you answered “I played croquet with a flamingo and some hedgehogs” then stop reading now – there’s nothing new here for you, my friend.
If, however – sadly - there were no flamingos, no hedgehogs, then read on, because inspired by the little mushrooms popping out of that very chilled-out Letter M above, today we’re sliding down the rabbit hole into some magical garden worlds created by authors, musicians and artists.
Exhibit A (as you’ve no doubt guessed): Alice in Wonderland
In the best-selling book by Lewis Carroll - mathematics lecturer by day, crazy-ass storyteller by night - Alice spends some of her most memorable Wonderland moments in gardens.
It’s no accident we have those mushrooms up above, as magical fungi propel Alice through several of her adventures.
It was in this beautiful garden that the upside-down flamingos were used as croquet mallets by the Queen, a creature only slightly more malevolent in my mind than the leering Cheshire Cat.
You will have noticed that all these startling gardens were populated by an assortment of ever more grotesque and terrifying animals.
This was a motif that reappeared in the 1970s classic, The Butterfly Ball and The Grasshopper’s Feast.
If, like me, you were a child of the seventies, then you’ll remember the truly whacked out video clip that was on high rotation on the ABC.
With its mandolin-playing frog balladeer, wizard-moth, iguana-bird-thing, elephant-head-push me-pull-you, top-hatted mole and piano-playing centipede, we ain’t talking no Peppa Pig, let me tell you.
All the critters journeyed through a relatively benign (in comparison) countryside landscape on their way to the Butterfly Ball.
The song, Love Is All, was from the rock opera The Butterfly Ball and The Grasshopper's Feast, produced by Roger Glover, who had recently parted ways with Deep Purple (all making sense now?).
It was based on an 1807 poem by William Roscoe, also the inspiration for the classic 1973 book of the same name, with fabulous illustrations by Alan Aldridge.
The top-hatted mole joins the party from his candlelit molehole, but if you need to throw a light on things in the garden, consider dragging out some old desk lamps.
They are one of the unexpected components appearing regularly in the fantastical light installations by Norwegian artist Rune Guneriussen.
This work was shown in Paris’s Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, but Guneriussen usually makes his installations of table lamps, desk lamps and books in countryside locations, photographing them for later sharing.
Bringing It Home
- Watch out for mushrooms: although I don't think the ones you can grow in a box in the garage from a Bunnings kit produce quite the same effect.
- Fall down the rabbit hole (or bandicoot hole): look at things a different way. Lie down - what do you see?
- Listen: you may not hear a piano being played by a centipede, but what can you hear?
- Expect magic: it's everywhere in a good garden.